Manatee County residents, small rescue organizations, and volunteers for the Manatee County Animal Services shelter are reeling from the news that came out only yesterday that 18 dogs were killed during the Memorial Day weekend. Supporters of the shelter are saddened to learn that the best efforts of the shelter with all the good things that have occurred since last August have not been enough to keep the shelter on the path that saves the lives of innocent animals. Comments made on social media since the news about the mass killing have pointed fingers in all directions, but reality says that there is enough “blame” to go around to both community residents and shelter workers. The blame game DOES NOT SAVE LIVES and 18 lives were lost in a span of two days. A valuable volunteer for the shelter worked with all of the dogs that were killed to take beautiful photos in order to market through the FaceBook pages run by volunteers, and has been posting comments by each dog. These dogs were labeled “aggressive”, and the volunteer has personal knowledge that these dogs that he photographed were not aggressive. His comments about each dog add to the sadness that will now be part of the shelter’s history. Some dogs had “medical conditions” that were treatable. Killing animals with treatable conditions is not a part of the No Kill Equation. It was said that the shelter did reach out to rescues for a period of days to pull these animals. The small rescues are FULL, and no one stepped up to foster an animal. The new Rescue Agreement between the shelter and rescues that have been a part of past success in saving lives is now a contentious piece of the puzzle. Some rescues have not signed the new agreement due to disagreements with the wording. This leaves fewer rescues that could have pulled these animals to safety.
This article is not meant to be part of the blame game. Problems exist in both the community and the shelter. The community must become educated in many areas in order to help the shelter. The lack of education for pet owners is a huge cause of shelter over-population.
*Owner surrenders-yes, times are hard, but there are many organizations that can help with food, spay/neuter services, and even training for pet parents at a low cost when they adopt from the shelter. Owner surrenders are a major cause of over-population in the shelter.
*Stray animals that are a result of breeding in back yards. The entire state of Florida needs strict laws to control back-yard breeding. Both community residents and shelter employees can be part of the change in laws if an effort is consistently made to stay in touch with lawmakers on behalf of the animals. Other states are active in their communications with their lawmakers, Florida can step up the pace with better laws to protect our companion animals.
*Lack of interest or time for more people to become volunteers-VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! It takes the community to care for shelter animals that belong to EVERYBODY when they become the property of the shelter due to no fault of an innocent animal.
*Not enough staff
*Lack of a permanent onsite veterinarian that can adequately assess the animals and their behavior, and one that understands that the shelter is a frightening environment for these dogs. Yes, they will bite when frightened. Animals can also sense that someone is afraid of them. They will bite if they have a sense that someone is afraid of them. If a person shows fear, the majority of dogs will sense their fear, and may bite out of their own fear. This has been a consistent thought throughout the community that a person who fears the animals should not be at the shelter. A qualified veterinarian and animal behaviorist is necessary to save lives. This need is part of the Matrix report and should be implemented immediately.
*Not enough volunteers to help with cleaning, feeding and walking.
18 dogs lost their lives this past Memorial Day weekend. This news article is not meant as a part of the “blame game”. It is meant as a Wake Up Call to both the community and the shelter to return to good things that were begun last August.